4 doctors weighed in:

Why do I sometimes sit up with a snort when I fall asleep on airplane? Position?

4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Dennis Clifford
Internal Medicine - Pulmonary Critical Care
2 doctors agree

In brief: Yes

Your soft palate may close against the back wall of your throat closing off air flow.
This will cause you to awaken with a sudden snort as you generate enough pressure to overcome the obstruction. This is the same physiology that causes obstructive sleep apnea, so if you snore at home you might need a sleep study to assess for obstructive sleep apnea.

In brief: Yes

Your soft palate may close against the back wall of your throat closing off air flow.
This will cause you to awaken with a sudden snort as you generate enough pressure to overcome the obstruction. This is the same physiology that causes obstructive sleep apnea, so if you snore at home you might need a sleep study to assess for obstructive sleep apnea.
Dr. Dennis Clifford
Dr. Dennis Clifford
Thank
Dr. Sarah Kohl
Travel Medicine

In brief: Startle Response

When falling asleep in the sitting position we often droop our heads.
This can cause a startle response which can be accompanied by a small snort. Others bend their heads forward enough to cause a temporary narrowing of the airway.Your body 'objects' to this and causes you wake up and inhale suddenly also causing a small snort. A "u" shaped travel pillow can help position you more comfortably.

In brief: Startle Response

When falling asleep in the sitting position we often droop our heads.
This can cause a startle response which can be accompanied by a small snort. Others bend their heads forward enough to cause a temporary narrowing of the airway.Your body 'objects' to this and causes you wake up and inhale suddenly also causing a small snort. A "u" shaped travel pillow can help position you more comfortably.
Dr. Sarah Kohl
Dr. Sarah Kohl
Thank
Get help from a real doctor now
Dr. William Forsythe
Board Certified,
23 years in practice
171K people helped
Continue
108,000 doctors available
Read more answers from doctors